Can you ever pay off your crime?

Spent some time this weekend thinking about a conversation I had concerning a topic from last week about the mandatory jail time for felons who use firearms in another crime or simply illegally carry after their first release.

This post may be a little more philosophical than others but I think its some good food for thought.

Instead of using specific examples of varying crimes I am going to pose the query as such: Should a convicted felon ever be allowed to regain all their rights?  This of course includes the right to keep and bear arms.

In my youth I was a bit more of a hard tack when it came to this notion.  I believed that if you committed a crime you should be punished and that you are no longer a citizen in regards to the Constitution.  You have broken the social contract intrinsic to being a citizen and as such would be rightfully denied the full spectrum of the rights therein.

Perhaps as my libertarian ways have taken a more firm hold I have come to see things a bit differently.  Or perhaps I have become more of a hard tack when it comes to criminals but my views have moved…oddly enough in both directions.

I once believed, as I said that, that criminals should lose their rights because they have proven that they cannot be law abiding citizens.  But if they cannot be trusted with the rights of a citizen than why are they out of prison?  This is where the duality of my thought comes in.  I’m in favor of HARD time (more so than when I was younger).  The kind in which you do not get out of for good behavior or copping a plea or getting some bleeding heart justice to think you had it rough so he’s willing to excuse the armed robbery, assault and vehicular manslaughter charge while you were coked up.

BUT, if you serve your time, and are released back into society, if you cannot be trusted to act accordingly with the full rights of a citizen then what the hell are they doing on the streets?!?!

So, do I think we should eliminate probation and parole? No, one should always be wary of absolutes like zero tolerance policies.  Though, if you want to withhold certain rights during that time then that’s fine because the convict is still serving his time.  But should someone, who has served his time, made whatever amends the state has asked of him be released into society and still denied the rights that everyone else has?

To focus on the Second Amendment directly…if we take the assumption that a convicted criminal is no longer part of the People, at what point, if ever, are they again counted among the People?  And if they are once again part of the People, what right does the state have to infringe upon their Second Amendment right?